If you use synthetic wigs or hair extensions, and once in a while you get the urge to shake things up, you must have asked yourself: ‘Can you dye synthetic hair?’
Synthetic hair is available in many colors and is relatively affordable, but sometimes you can’t find exactly what you need. Then, why not just dye it yourself? If you feel adventurous and creative, it might be the time to give it a try.
Can You Dye Synthetic Hair?
Yes, you can! But, you cannot do it with traditional hair dyes. The usual dyeing methods will not work because synthetic hair can’t withstand the process. That should not discourage you because there are plenty of fabric dyes to choose from.
Fabric dyes are specifically made for polyester and synthetic materials. You can use acrylic color, alcohol-based ink, and even sharpie ink. With little preparation and motivation for a DIY project, you can revamp your style successfully.
What Happens If You Dye Synthetic Hair?
Synthetic hair is made from purely artificial fibers, such as polyester, polyvinyl, and acrylic, so it cannot be treated nor dyed by commonly used permanent colors, bleach, or henna. Dyes for natural hair chemically bond with every hair cuticle and react with the natural pigment in the hair. Synthetic hair is unnatural, so applying hair dye would only damage it beyond repair.
For that reason, you should use fabric dyes to get the result you want. You can dye your synthetic hair evenly, and it won’t look burnt or damaged in any way.
How to Dye Synthetic Hair
1. Lay the Groundwork
First of all, you should use heat-resistant synthetic hair. In addition, make sure you get a light-colored wig or extensions. You can’t lighten synthetic hair, so choose your canvas wisely.
You have to make sure your dye is darker than the hair. If you are looking for a bright color as your final result, a good place to start would be a white or silver wig or extension.
The prep time will depend on the type of dye you choose:
• Acrylic color — Mix a ¼ teaspoon of acrylic dye with 3 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle.
• Alcohol-based ink — Put ink and water in a spray bottle in equal measure.
• Sharpie ink — Remove the ink tube from a sharpie and put it in a spray bottle, add water, and leave it overnight to drain properly.
Finally, set up your workspace. You should find a well-ventilated area and use newspapers to protect the floor. Make sure to prepare all the items you might need: spray bottle, dye, water, rubbing alcohol, gloves, wide-tooth comb, etc.
2. Start the Application
After preparing the dye solution you plan to use, make sure to put on gloves. You will be using your hands throughout the process, and without proper protection, you can stain or even damage your hands.
Then, you have to section the hair. Start from the bottom layers and move your way up to the top. It is better to take smaller sections so you can apply the dye evenly.
Make sure you are thorough and spray every part of the hair, from roots to the ends. Apply a good amount of dye, use a comb to make sure you are getting to the parts underneath. Sometimes the roots can be tricky, so use your fingers to rub the color in.
Let the hair air dry for at least 2 hours. Expect that this will not be a clean process. The dye will probably drip, so secure the area with some newspapers to prevent stains.
3. Wrap Up Your Project
The last step is rinsing out your new hair. Do this with cold water, since warm or hot water could remove the dye completely. Rinse until all the extra dye is gone and the water becomes clear.
Any excess dye in the hair might cause dripping, which can transfer to your clothes and stain them. To avoid that, take extra time to rinse thoroughly. You can put the hair on a towel to dry and comb it afterward.
Q: Can you use spray dye on synthetic hair?
Yes, spray dye is fine for synthetic hair. However, you need to consider the effect you want to achieve. This kind of dye will make the hair stiff and give it a ‘frosted’ look. If you want to style your hair for a fun cosplay, it can be quite interesting. But for regular use, it is not the best choice because it might ruin your hair.
Q: Can you use semi-permanent hair dye on synthetic hair?
Semi-permanent hair dye is less aggressive than permanent color, but it won’t work on synthetic hair. Semi-permanent colors coat the cuticles of natural hair, and since synthetic hair is structured differently, the color won’t stick to it. The dye might not ruin your wig or hair extensions, but it won’t look good, nor will you get the results you were expecting.